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School Discipline FAQ

Vision for 2016-17 school year:
The district's motivating objective is to employ nationally recognized best practices for managing student behavior. Research has found that the most effective techniques for improving behavior over the long term involve keeping children in classroom settings as much as possible and increasing student engagement by improving teaching effectiveness. The goal is to reduce in-class disruption and prevent, identify and appropriately address student behavior issues before they become disciplinary issues.

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Where are we right now?
Tucson Unified School District is operating under the 2015-2016 Code of Conduct through the end of this school year. The district in the process of updating the Guide for Students' Rights and Responsibilities (also referred to as the GSRR or Code of Conduct) for the 2016-2017 school year. We are seeking the input of the community, principals, teachers, students and parents before the updated code is brought to the Special Master overseeing the district's Unitary Status Plan, What is the timeline for the Code of Conduct?
See the Timeline page for more information.

Moving from "zero tolerance" to smart school discipline
National research shows that smart discipline helps students learn how to correct their behavior and create schools that are healthier, safer and more productive. Schools and school districts around the country have improved safety, boosted attendance, improved school climate and raised academic achievement through disciplinary approaches that reduce the use of exclusionary disciplinary practices, rely on developmentally appropriate disciplinary consequences, prioritize equitable practices and implement alternatives such as Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports and restorative practices.

The district has had the GSRR for several years, why change it now?
An evaluation of the GSRR among focus groups of community, staff, student and parent stakeholders shows it is too long, dense and confusing. The first step is to create a much shorter, less legalistic and more user-friendly Code of Conduct.
The focus groups also found the GSRR has a negative tone and is reminiscent of the criminal code. The new Code of Conduct will establish a more positive, forward-looking tone in which the importance of school climate is explained and put into context of the mission, vision and goals of the district.

How will the district support teachers and administrators in this process?
Restorative Practices and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports are the primary strategies for ensuring a positive culture and climate and for preventing and addressing disciplinary issues. While district sites have attained varying levels of proficiency in one or both strategies, teacher turnover, attrition and promotion have resulted in the need to reset training districtwide to ensure that sites are implementing these strategies in a manner that is consistent across schools.

In June 2016, the district will implement PBIS training for site administrators (principals and assistant principals) over a three-day period. This will serve as the foundation for further strengthening PBIS district-wide in SY 2016-17. In the fall semester of SY 2016-17, the district will require all site administrators to attend training on restorative practices. This training will likely include the members of each site's discipline team (site administrators, MTSS team members, counselors, etc.).

Code of Conduct Working Group
Tucson Unified's pulled together a diverse, multi-stakeholder Code of Conduct Working Group intentionally created to include a wide variety of perspectives. The group includes six teachers, three school support staff (School Safety Officer, Psychologist, Learning Supports Coordinator) , three school administrators, three district administrators, five students, three parents and four community members.

Research findings
A national study of more than one million students found that students who were suspended or expelled were:

Six times more likely to repeat a grade
Five times more likely to drop out
Nearly three times more likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system the next year
Research has found that being arrested in school doubles the chances of dropping out, and a first-time court appearance quadruples the chances of dropping out
School discipline reform
Rethinking discipline is a bipartisan issue with support across the ideological spectrum including the U.S. Department of Education, National Education Association, Council of State Governments Justice Center, American Bar Association, Americans for Tax Reform, National Association of State Boards of Education.